What happens when you are charged with refusing a breath or blood test in PA?

When you drive in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you have given your consent to be tested for DUI. This is called “implied consent” and it is covered in Title 75 § 1547:

“Any person who drives, operates or is in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle in this Commonwealth shall be deemed to have given consent to one or more chemical tests of breath or blood for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of blood or the presence of a controlled substance if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person to have been driving…”

A refusal can be outright , such as when a driver explicitly states “no, I will not take a test.” An officer can also deem it as a refusal the officer feels a driver is being uncooperative. For example, some officers will charge a driver with a refusal if the driver is not blowing into the breath machine hard enough or as instructed.

If you are charge with a refusal, typically two things will happen:

  1. You will be charged with a DUI. This is a criminal matter and you will face penalties like a license suspension and jail time, depending on your previous history.
  2. You will be charged with a refusal. This is a civil matter and PENNDOT will proceed to suspend your driving license for at least one year and perhaps up to 18 months depending upon your prior record. You have 30 days to appeal this suspension. If you do not appeal or if your appeal is denied, your license will be suspended regardless of the outcome of the separate criminal DUI case.

If you are suspended in both cases, the suspensions will run consecutive to one another. So for example if you are to serve a 12 months suspension in the DUI case and 12 months for the refusal, that means your license will be suspended for 2 years.

Refusal charges are serious and should be handled by experienced attorneys who know the laws and who are willing to fight for your right to drive. If you have been charged with a refusal, please call (717) 690-8643 to speak to an experienced defense attorney at The McShane Firm. We have helped thousands of Pennsylvania residents and we have the knowledge and experience to fight for you.

Justin McShane

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Avvo.com. Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

One response to “What happens when you are charged with refusing a breath or blood test in PA?”

  • John W. Callender says:

    I refused an blood alcohol test in April of 2021. I then received an license suspension letter stating I had to turn my license in at the end of May 2021. I knew it was a 1year Suspension on my drivers license. At this time I had hired an defense Lawyer. I had to be in Court on September 1st. 2021. My Lawyer recommended that I plead guilty to an Low Level DUI. I didn’t want to do this. But I did what he recommended. I received an $300.00 fine. And 1 year suspension of my license. But then I received an letter from the Department of Transportation stating that I would be Suspended for an additional 18 months. And required an Intoxalock before I would get my license back. I had refused an blood chemical test 21 years ago. And lost my license for 1year. Can they use that refusal after 21 year’s ago. I live on an fixed income to were I can not afford to pay for an Intoxalock installed. $1,100.00 and additional fee’s. Is ther anyway I could get an Probation license , or Limited license without an Intoxalock device?

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